I’m Neurodivergent And This Is Why Holding Down A Job Is So Hard
Last year I parted ways with an employer I had been with for nearly 20 years, convinced that I was unemployable. Like many autistic people, my inability to sustain employment had nothing to do with my skills and experience.
Many neurodivergent people experience unemployment due to barriers to obtaining and maintaining employment because of workplaces that are not inclusive. There’s more awareness now about the need for workplaces to accommodate different needs but less understanding of what it entails.
It’s easy enough for people to grasp the sensory needs of autistic people but less so the complexities of communication and human interaction between different neurotypes.
I worked in a professional role where I had a certain amount of control over my work. But I had no control over the minefield of interpersonal relations and limited ability to navigate it as a late-diagnosed autistic (with likely other undiagnosed neurodivergence including ADHD).
Throughout 2022, a cruel and menacing universe had orchestrated chaos in every sector of my life: employment, family, relationships and my engagement with the world generally. I was burnt out and the last day of my job in October 2022 marked the start of my recovery.
I had to leave a job I loved because of the way I was treated. My professional skills, knowledge, experience and right to autonomy were disregarded as punishment for refusing to play neurotypical games I no longer had the capacity or energy for. They knew I was autistic but persisted in imposing neurotypical expectations on me.
I had dared to take the first tentative steps into autistic authenticity and self-determination and I was punished for it. For the first time, I trusted my judgment and believed in the value of what I had to say. The balance tipped from upholding the polite dance of neurotypical communication to speaking with honesty and clarity.
The interpersonal fallout was nasty and traumatic and the bitter aftertaste still lingers. But ultimately, I decided that I had outgrown the job, and perhaps employment itself. I figured I…